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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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Office sought: Kaneland Unit District 302 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Two young adult sons, both of whom are successful graduates of Kaneland District 302.
Occupation: Retired. Worked as a High School Guidance Counselor in Hinsdale High School District #86 for 35 years. Most recently provided Part-time Admission Support for DePaul University.
Education: MS/Education in Guidance and Counseling from Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL. BS/Education in Psychology, Western Illinois University. Post Graduate Study in Addictions Counseling. Type 73 certification; Supervisory Endorsement
Civic involvement: American Legion Auxiliary Elburn Chamber of Commerce (with my husband) Kaneland W.I.N.S. (Women Inspire Network Serve) Breast Cancer Research Foundation Fundraiser National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) Kane County ROE Strategic Planning Participant Many professional organizations
Elected offices held: Kaneland School Board 2005, 4-year term Kaneland School Board 2009, 4-year term Served as Secretary of the Board for two years, and Board President for three years. Recognition from IASB(Illinois Association of School Boards)as a Master Board Member, 2010.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Kaneland is moving in the right direction, and I offer my continued involvement, stewardship, stability, and leadership to further the quality of education for our students while living within our limited resources. I have found my work on the School Board to be very challenging, and I now have time to offer due diligence in this service. I have proven that I can be part of an effective team to make a postive contribution. That is why I am seeking a final term.
Key Issue 2
When the Board of Education approved cost reduction plans,they did so understanding that there would be class sizes higher than what have been set as a target in the past. Adjusting numbers above the target has not been a decision made lightly. It is understood that having lower numbers of students in a classroom is preferred. Unfortunately, our current financial reality does not allow us to maintain some of the numbers we once enjoyed. That is an unfortunate trend impacting many school districts in our immediate area. I have a strong preference for lower class size as a priority as soon as financially feasible.
Key Issue 3
While most School Board issues are local, attention must be called to the State of Illinois and its commitment to public education. We need to do more to close the achievment gaps in Illinois, but we are improving in the face of Illinois ranking at or near the bottom in the nation in state funding for education, suffering an 11% cut in General State Aid and a 42% cut in transportation funding in the last 3 years. We've been doing more with less. Monitoring and voices representing the communities and education professionals continue to be needed. A key challenge and issue is significant uncertainty.
What do you think about the shift to the common core standards? How big a role do you think the board of education should play in setting the curriculum for students and what ideas do you have for changes to the current curriculum?
Common core standards, if they are fewer, cleaner and higher, are not a problem. There are materials and resources needed to fully implement the Common Core Standards, which comes with a cost. The amount of focus on testing and the quantity of assessment needed to gather the data, and the judgments made based soley on testing scores concerns me. The academic rigor and vitality of a school district should be measured by more than a single classroom or district test score. Principal and Teacher evaluations should reflect more than just common core assessment results. There are many ambitious curriculum and instructional initiatives that have been introduced at Kaneland in the last couple years, so I am sensitive to balancing what could become a frenetic pace. We are fortunate at Kaneland to have curriculum experts to guide us, supported by a great faculty who work with our administration to make curricular recommendations for the Board's consideration.
How satisfied are you that your district is preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be from elementary into high school or high school into college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?
Our mission statement is to "graduate all of our students College, Career, and Community Ready" and clearly everything in our strategic plan is enveloped in that mission. We need to continue to use data to drive decisions and to measure our progress toward meeting our benchmarks and goals, but there is ALWAYS an urgency for improvement. Celebrations of achievements are important, too, like doubling the number of students in our high school taking Advanced Placement classes this year, but there is not ever time to rest in satisfaction and complacency. We have much work to do.
What budget issues will your district have to confront and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, what programs and expenses should be reduced or eliminated? On the income side, do you support any tax increases?
Education in Illinois depends most heavily on property taxes. We are very appreciative of the financial support from our communities and we recognize that our taxpayers are heavily burdened. The good news is,from a facility standpoint, Kaneland is in relatively good shape for when growth starts to pick up again, and I do not anticipate the need for any tax referendum any time soon for new buildings. What we are feeling, without a doubt, are changes from State of Illinois support. Significant decreases in general state aid and transportation reimbursements impact the funds that we rely on to operate daily. Kaneland District is made up of 140 square miles, so we do some heavy bussing, along with an aging fleet of busses. We also have some technology needs that we have put on hold over that last few years to meet our budget demands that we can no longer afford to neglect. Kaneland has been forced to make some tough financial decisions over the last four years to balance our budget, and we made those with great care and deliberation. We need to constantly monitor our projections, balance our revenues and expenditures, and align our limited resources with our District goals.
As contract talks come up with various school employee groups, do you believe the district should ask for concessions from its employees, expect employee costs to stay about the same as they are now or provide increases in pay or benefits?
Cost containment measures that Kaneland has experienced recently have forced our entire staff to take salary freezes, and in some cases, decreases. All parties have collaborated during these tough times, but it hasn't always been easy as we have a common goal to try to attract, select, develop, and retain a competent, diversified and highly qualified staff to deliver high quality educational programs. Future employment agreements will include evaluation systems focused on student growth and data-based performance indicators, will prioritize staffing needs based on available resources and strategic initiatives, and will need to fairly monitor retention data, including Kaneland's work culture, level of salary compensation, and benefits.
If your district had a superintendent or other administrator nearing retirement, would you support a substantial increase in his or her pay to help boost pension benefits? Why or why not?
The practice of "end of career" salary increases for superintendents should not be made for the sole purpose to artifically maximize a pension benefit. I do realize that school districts compete with each other for administrative talent, and our choice in a superintendent is critical to drive our improvements. I am in favor of eliminating the systemic practice of substantial 'retirement package' salary increases when it is done statewide.